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Energetic TV adverts can turn off viewers, a study by Professor Nancy Puccinelli

Oxford Research which is based on six studies of nearly a thousand people, shows that the consumer may find it hard to process energetic TV commercials

New research shows that TV commercials with a high energy feel (e.g. featuring upbeat, enthusiastic spokespeople) can have less of an impact when placed in serious TV dramas, which are increasingly becoming more popular and now make up 40 percent of programming.

The research was based on six studies with a total of 900 people who were shown a range of TV commercials and their responses carefully monitored. The findings showed that consumers find it hard to process upbeat TV commercials that reach a certain energy level when they appear during a serious TV drama, leading to shorter viewing times and lower brand recall.

The report ‘Consumers Response to Commercials: When the energy level in the Commercial conflicts with the Media Context’ was authored by Nancy Puccinelli, Associate Professor of Marketing, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, Keith Wilcox, Associate Professor of Marketing, Columbia Business School, Columbia University and Dhruv Grewal, Toyota Chair in E-Commerce and Electronic Business, Babson College.

High energy commercials that are active, exciting and arousing for the viewer to experience have become the norm in advertising. Oxford’s analysis of commercials on Hulu (, as part of the study, shows that over eighty-percent of the commercials embedded were rated to be relatively energetic.

However, the research suggests that when advertisers run commercials in media that induces a deactivating emotion (e.g. sadness, relaxation, contentment) they should avoid running highly energetic commercials (e.g. with upbeat music). Additionally, this research recommends that advertisers need to consider how the media induced emotion interacts with the energy level of their commercial. In cases where advertisers are buying bulk time and have less information about programming, a safer strategy would be to run moderately energetic commercials.

‘These findings could be ground breaking in the way that advertisers and companies place TV adverts and even the way they produce them,’ said Nancy Puccinelli ‘With the huge investment and expectations that companies seek through TV and online advertising, a slightly different approach could radically change the impact on a consumer.’

Josie Powell, Press Officer, Saïd Business School
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Notes to Editors

The report ‘Consumers Response to Commercials: When the energy level in the Commercial conflicts with the Media Context’ can be found here:

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